Freedom of Expression

Press release R43/13






Washington, D.C., June 17, 2013 - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of José Roberto Ornelas de Lemos, administrative director of newspaper Hora H, and son of the media outlet’s owner, José Lemos, which ocurred on June 11, in the city Nova Iguaçu, state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern and requests that the authorities conduct a prompt and diligent investigation to establish the motive of the crime and to identify and appropriately punish the perpetrators.


According to the information received, on the night of Wednesday, June 11, Ornelas de Lemos was in a bakery when he was shot at least forty times by four unknown persons who were inside a vehicle. According to news reports, the victim had received threats previously, which may appear to have been related to the publications of the newspaper Hora H. The daily circulates in the Baixada Fluminense region and covers police beats. Furthermore, in 2005, Ornelas de Lemos had been the victim of an attack.


News reports also indicate that Ornelas de Lemos had been acused of being involved in a murder perpetrated in 2002, for which he had been taken into preventive custody. He was later freed due to lack of evidence against him. Ornela de Lemos was also under investigation for his alleged connection with three crimes perpetrated in the 1990s, but he was never formally charged.


Authorities investigating the case told the press that the police are working on the hypothesis that the crime could have been related to the activities of the newspaper run by the victim.


The ninth principle of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.